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Marianne

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Everything posted by Marianne

  1. The more I think about Woman on the Run, the more I appreciate it -- I really have to see it again. The ending, with the ride on the roller coaster, is fun to watch and really adds to the tension. I did have some questions about this film (Why didn't anyone recognize a famous gangster posing as a journalist? Didn't Frank wonder, even for a moment, that his wife was in on the gangster's plot?), but like I said, I'll have to see it again and follow the plot more closely. I think it's a great movie.
  2. I've been thinking about the last scene of M and the warning to parents (mostly mothers, by the way!) about watching out for their children. It's a compelling ending, although it does sound like the director is blaming the parents and children. But what if he and the mother are really making a plea? Maybe the only ones who can really protect children are the ones who love them. Another thing about this film that really struck me was the unofficial trial by all the underground criminals. They were the ones who found the killer, but they are prevented from killing him by the rule of law, which steps in at the last minute. This scene was handled brilliantly, I thought, by having the criminals stopped by something that appears on the scene but off-screen. During the "trial," Peter Lorre's character accuses all of them of committing crimes, but especially the leader behind the desk of committing murder. Lorre asks if he is just as guilty because he cannot help what he does. The dialogue in that scene makes the case for both sides, and it's a fascinating exchange. Peter Lorre was superb in M; his anguish and terror at being who he is is just amazing.
  3. Woman on the Run and The Letter: Strong Female Leads Eleanor Johnson (played by Ann Sheridan) is a strong female lead in Woman on the Run. She is in almost every scene and has most of the snappy lines of dialogue, too. It was great to see her against the backdrop of San Francisco. But The Letter has the monopoly on strong female leads. Bette Davis gave a fantastic performance. It's hard to believe, but I think even she is upstaged anytime Mrs Hammond is onscreen. When Mrs. Hammond sells the letter to Bette Davis and her lawyer, she throws it on the floor and forces Bette Davis to pick it up. Davis does pick it up. And says thank you, too! And, of course, the entire sequence at the end with the knife (which Davis had admired in the shop just before buying the letter) was fantastic. Davis willingly follows the moonlight out into the night to meet her fate with Mrs. Hammond. Great ending that took me by surprise. Some additional thoughts on Woman on the Run: I wondered why did Frank thought he could outwit the gangster better than he could outwit the SFPD, and why didn’t anyone else recognize a gangster working in San Francisco. But I didn’t care. I was willing to suspend my disbelief because I was rooting for Frank and Eleanor Johnson. I knew almost from the beginning that the gangster was impersonating a journalist, but somehow I believed that Eleanor didn’t know. Additional thoughts on Victor Sen Young: Did anyone else notice Victor Sen Young in both movies? In Woman on the Run, he played Sammy Chung the owner of the dance hall in Chinatown whose wife was murdered. He also played Ong Chi Seng, the legal assistant in The Letter who we think is helping Bette Davis’s lawyer win her case but is really in on the plot for revenge. He gives such a different performance in both movies. Great to see in a supporting role.
  4. Good questions. I took the first-person POV (point of view) to mean that we, the viewers, are seeing the story unfold the way the character, played by Humphrey Bogart, is seeing and experiencing it. But I suppose, in film, we have to assume that a clip shot the way this one from Dark Passage is shot would have to be from the character's, the viewers', and the director's because, without a director, there would be no film. This was the least satisfying clip for me out of all four in the Daily Doses of Darkness assigned this week. But I am still looking forward to seeing the whole movie. It has inspired some great insights on this discussion thread, that's for sure!
  5. Thank you for posting this clip from the silent film La roue. Very effective use of images to show the train speeding up. The clip makes me want to see the entire movie.
  6. I noticed the three-dimensional quality to the film, too. But it did have its limits. I was drawn in at the beginning because we see the plantation workers in their hammocks and there's a dog (I think it was dog!) in the background sniffing for something on the ground. When I looked farther back, I have to admit the far background looked like painted screens to me. But there's still no denying that the composition of this sequence is fluid and wonderful to watch. At the end, the director used the long shot successfully when he uses the camera to show us Bette Davis's dead body and then pans up to show the partyers dancing in the background. Really good camerawork.
  7. Just saw the full movie (The Letter) and what a powerful performance by Bette Davis. I was really struck by the colonial way of life, but all that gets turned on its head before the movie is done. The moon, in particular, was a very interesting motif woven throughout the story. It was lovely, of course, but it seemed to represent so many things. In the opening clip, it almost seems to remind Bette Davis of her guilt at what she has just done in shooting Hammond. Later in the movie, it reminds her of her love and what she has done to him. At the end, she walks right out into the moonlight to meet her fate. The ending really took me by surprise; I love it when a story can take me somewhere unexpected.
  8. I didn't find your response rude; please, no worries there. But I did find the opening to Dark Passage a bit contrived. While it may be true that all movies are contrived, I don't want to be reminded of that or feel that when I am watching the beginning of a film and hoping to be caught up in the story. If I am watching a movie (or reading a novel or doing just about anything else that an audience does), I don't want to be so conscious of technique. I want to enjoy first, analyze later. This opening just didn't work so well for me, but it's not going to stop me from seeing the movie.
  9. No, I haven't seen the full movie yet, but the opening sequence should be smooth and not contrived, no matter what the rest of the movie plot holds in store for me. In spite of this, I'm looking forward to seeing Dark Passage. I'm a Bogart fan.
  10. —Do you feel this film's use of first person POV in this scene was successful or not successful, and did it add to the tension? I'm not sure that the use of the first-person POV was successful. It felt a bit contrived to me because I want to see the star (who happens to be Humphrey Bogart) and not just hear what he's thinking. But I wonder if any other perspective would have allowed the director the advantage of letting the audience hear the character's thoughts. The technique seems to work best when Bogart’s character meets the driver who picks him up on the road because we see firsthand the driver’s sudden realization that he had an escaped convict in his car. —In what ways can the opening of Dark Passage be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? The opening clip to Dark Passage switches back and forth from third-person to first-person POV at the beginning. The entire sequence might have been more effective if more of the third-person POV was used throughout. But apparently the first-person POV style of shooting was brand new, and Daves was the first to use it. For that reason alone, I’d say Daves made an important contribution to cinema in general, not just film noir.
  11. I definitely found the opening scene of La Bete Humaine not noir! I actually felt that it was more relaxing: the rhythm of the train, the shots following the train that were taken from the engineer's perspective, the easy working relationhip between the two men. I saw the movie after watching the Daily Dose, and the opening sequence is deceptive because the rest of the film is anything but relaxing. But it's almost impossible to see that when you're watching these two railroad engineers at work in the opening sequence.
  12. Maybe it would be better to have a separate folder for the Daily Doses, and then a separate folder for each movie. If major topics develop, then they could be added as separate folders, as needed. Right now it's a bit difficult to follow all the threads. I wonder if it's even possible to corral them all when you have so many people who are taking the class and have interesting insights to offer. That just made me think: Will we be able to continue reading the posts after the class ends? If we can, then we can read at our leisure, knowing that we can get back to the various dicussion topics. -Marianne
  13. I was a bit surprised by the opening of this movie. I didn’t know anything about it before I watched the Daily Dose clip and, to be honest, I was mostly surprised by the appearance of Bette Davis! Maybe I have already seen a lot of film noir (and I do watch a lot of police procedurals), so I am already used to the dead bodies showing up at the beginning. In the first two clips that we saw for this course (from M and from La Bette Humaine), the plot seems to build up to the most gut-wrenching tragedy. In The Letter, we see the dead body almost as soon as the movie opens. What I noticed about the opening clip from The Letter was the smooth production. The sound, both the music and the conversation, is perfectly aligned with the action, which in turn is perfectly aligned with the panning of the camera. First we hear the dripping of the rubber and the music. Then we see that the plantation workers are playing the music, then the music fades while the camera pans to the main house. It stops after we hear the first gunshot, and the view switches now to the plantation workers and then back to Bette Davis shooting Mr. Hammond. The camera zooms in on her face, which reveals nothing. As a viewer, I am already asking the questions that Bette Davis is not answering, at least not in that first scene. I want to know: Who is Mr. Hammond? What is Bette Davis’s relationship to him? And what made her pick up that gun and shoot him? When I watch classic film noir, I ask questions like these and they are answered (mostly!) by the end.
  14. I was a bit surprised by the opening of this movie. I didn’t know anything about it before I watched the Daily Dose clip and, to be honest, I was mostly surprised by the appearance of Bette Davis! Maybe I have already seen a lot of film noir (and I do watch a lot of police procedurals), so I am already used to the dead bodies showing up at the beginning. In the first two clips that we saw for this course (from M and from La Bette Humaine), the plot seems to build up to the most gut-wrenching tragedy. In The Letter, we see the dead body almost as soon as the movie opens. What I noticed about the opening clip from The Letter was the smooth production. The sound, both the music and the conversation, is perfectly aligned with the action, which in turn is perfectly aligned with the panning of the camera. First we hear the dripping of the rubber and the music. Then we see that the plantation workers are playing the music, then the music fades while the camera pans to the main house. It stops after we hear the first gunshot, and the view switches now to the plantation workers and then back to Bette Davis shooting Mr. Hammond. The camera zooms in on her face, which reveals nothing. As a viewer, I am already asking the questions that Bette Davis is not answering, at least not in that first scene. I want to know: Who is Mr. Hammond? What is Bette Davis’s relationship to him? And what made her pick up that gun and shoot him? When I watch classic film noir, I ask questions like these and they are answered (mostly!) by the end.
  15. —Were you surprised by what happens in the opening scene of The Letter? I was a bit surprised by the opening of this movie. I didn’t know anything about it before I watched the Daily Dose clip and, to be honest, I was mostly surprised by the appearance of Bette Davis! Maybe I have already seen a lot of film noir (and I do watch a lot of police procedurals), so I am already used to the dead bodies showing up at the beginning. In the first two clips that we saw for this course (from M and from La Bette Humaine), the plot seems to build up to the most gut-wrenching tragedy. In The Letter, we see the dead body almost as soon as the movie opens. —In what ways can the opening of The Letter be considered an important contribution to the film noir style? What I noticed about the opening clip from The Letter was the smooth production. The sound, both the music and the conversation, is perfectly aligned with the action, which in turn is perfectly aligned with the panning of the camera. First we hear the dripping of the rubber and the music. Then we see that the plantation workers are playing the music, then the music fades while the camera pans to the main house. It stops after we hear the first gunshot, and the view switches now to the plantation workers and then back to Bette Davis shooting Mr. Hammond. The camera zooms in on her face, which reveals nothing. As a viewer, I am already asking the questions that Bette Davis is not answering, at least not in that first scene. I want to know: Who is Mr. Hammond? What is Bette Davis’s relationship to him? And what made her pick up that gun and shoot him? When I watch classic film noir, I ask questions like these and they are answered (mostly!) by the end.
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